AFCON

No bench worry for Tshabalala

2013-01-31 10:24
Siphiwe Tshabalala (Gallo Images)
Johannesburg - Bafana Bafana winger Siphiwe Tshabalala says he is not concerned by the lack of game-time afforded to him by coach Gordon Igesund during the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) tournament thus far.

Tshabalala was last used in the starting XI during the opening game of the tournament against Cape Verde Islands, which ended in a goalless draw.

Since then, he has watched from the bench in the last two matches against Angola and Morocco.

Tshabalala is the highest capped player in the squad with 74 appearances, but insists he is happy to contribute in whichever way needed.

"It is not about me, but the team winning the tournament and uniting the nation through sport," Tshabalala said.

"Obviously if I get a chance again I will be grateful and will take it. I will do my best to help the team achieve its objectives.

"There are no hard feelings between the players who play and those who don't. We get along very well and complement each other."

Bafana face Mali in the quarter-finals on Saturday at the Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban.

The venue has become a fortress for the host nation and Igesund's side will start Saturday's encounter favourites to advance to the penultimate stage of the competition.

Tshabalala added that the entire team were unified under Igesund and were aiming to go all the way on home soil.

"We do so many things together on and off the field," he said.

"We are like a family. Everyone is determined and showing hunger, which shows how badly we want this tournament, not for us as players but for the nation."

Meanwhile, defender Anele Ngcongca has been ruled out of the quarter-final encounter due to suspension, after being cautioned twice in the group stages.

Ngcongca said he was disappointed not to be involved in the clash against Mali.

"It's sad that I won't feature in this match because I was really looking forward to it, but then again it's part of the game," Ngcongca said.

"It's a great pity that I won't be on field but watching from the stands. I am confident that whoever gets the chance to play in that position will do a magnificent job because we are all working on one mission, to proceed to the semi-finals and go all the way in the tournament."

Ngcongca's expected replacement Siboniso Gaxa said he was looking forward to being named in Igesund's starting line-up.

"We have to be positive all the time," Gaxa said.

"No one is guaranteed a place in the team, everyone deserves to play but only 11 can start at any given time. It would be nice for me to represent my country on home soil.

"I am really looking forward to that if I do start. I have played more than 50 times for the national team and this would be one of the big games for me and for the country."

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